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Preview: Vanderbilt at #4 Mississippi State with For Whom the Cowbell Tolls's Justin Sutton

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Vanderbilt travels to #4 Mississippi State on Saturday. Do the Commodores have a prayer at pulling off the upset? We enlisted the help of an expert to break down the Bulldogs' 9-1 squad.

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Vanderbilt travels to Starksville, Mississippi this weekend to face one of the best teams in college football. Mississippi State was once thought to be one of the Commodores' easier matchups for 2014, but the first 12 weeks of the season have proven the Bulldogs' legitimacy. Saturday's matchup may be Vandy's toughest in the budding Derek Mason era.

The #4 team in the country already has wins over LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn this season. Last week's loss to Alabama - their first in 2014 - only means that Dak Prescott and the rest of Dan Mullen's squad will be out to make a statement against the Commodores. Vandy has had a bye week to prepare for the Bulldogs, but they'll also have to deal with the loss of 2013's leading rusher, Jerron Seymour. Seymour was dismissed from the program for a violation of team rules on Wednesday.

We enlisted the help of an expert to get a better idea of what Mississippi State will have in store for the 'Dores this weekend. Justin Sutton is an Editor-in-Chief over at For Whom the Cowbell Tolls, SBNation's dedicated Bulldog gazette. I hit him up with some questions, and he was kind enough to pull back the curtain and tell us more about this highly-ranked MSU team.

1. Mississippi State's loss to Alabama seems to eliminate any possibility of the Commodores catching the Bulldogs in a trap game. How do you expect the team to react coming off their first loss of the season?

I honestly expect a Bulldog team that is ready to get back to work. They never seemed to be negatively impacted by the big wins, so I really don't think the loss is going to impact them too much.

If anything, the loss might encourage the team to patch up the leaky ship that has been the team as of late. They have had too many turnovers and missed chances in their last few games. This might get them to tighten up in those areas.
2. Dak Prescott struggled against the Tide, but he'll have the opportunity to challenge a Vandy secondary that is loaded with inexperienced underclassmen. Do you think he'll pose more of a threat with his arm or with his legs (four 100+ yard rushing games in '14) on Saturday?
I'm hoping the impact happens with his arm. He struggled throwing two bad interceptions against Alabama in addition to one that was tipped. He has not been wildly on fire as a passer since the game against Auburn. That has to get cleaned back up. That said, I expect him to make some big plays on the ground and get a touchdown or two that way as well.
3. Vanderbilt will start redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary at quarterback, but his last game against Florida showed that he doesn't yet have the chops to deliver in the face of a strong blitz package. Who amongst the Bulldog front seven can torment him into bad decisions via pass rushing pressure?
With the front seven, it's a pick your poison. Preston Smith has tormented opponents this year. Chris Jones has that ability as well. The line backers are solid.  The front seven really are a strong point for the defense, and it will be interesting to see whom Vanderbilt attempts to limit out of the group.
4. To piggyback off that, Florida left Vandy's receivers in single coverage and focused on shutting down the VU run game and pressure McCrary. Do the Bulldogs have the players they need at cornerback and safety to make a similar strategy work?
All year, everyone has knocked the Mississippi State secondary, but they put up a strong effort against Amari Cooper. Yes, they have given up a chunk of yards this year, but when they needed to make plays, they have done so more often then not.

I guess that is a long way of answering yes.
5. Arkansas and Alabama were both successful in limiting explosive running back Josh Robinson on the ground (31 carries, 101 yards). How did they do that? Did their ability to stop the run factor into their inability to stop Robinson from having an impact in the passing game over that stretch (12 catches, 179 yards)?
I think Josh Robinson will get his yards one way or another. If you want to take him away as a runner, he can get those yards in the passing game.

Against Alabama, Mississippi State helped limit his rushing game impact by only giving him about a dozen carries.

Defensively, I would try to take his impact away in the running game. However, that does leave you open to him getting catches, especially in the flat or over short yardages in space, that he can turn into big plays.
6. How many beers would it take you to willingly watch a replay of the last two times these teams played - a 15-3 insta-classic that featured over 200 yards of passing excellence?
I actually had to google that game to see what happened. I knew the Bulldogs and Commodores played in Dan Mullen's first season, but I honestly remembered nothing about the game.

Sounds like it was a defensive masterpiece along the lines of 3-2.

There may not be enough beer, might have to break out the hard stuff.
7. Finally, what's your prediction for Saturday night's game?
I think Mississippi State rebounds in a big way from the loss to Alabama and controls the game from start to finish (game control, you listening CFB Playoff committee). I don't know about covering the spread. That is an awful lot of points.

I think the Bulldogs put up somewhere near 40 points and the Commodores find the end zone during the game as well.